Promote Your Content While Sharing Other’s With “Start A Fire”
Peter Panda

Whether you’re a blogger or a brand, what you’re typically fighting for in the online space is for people to see your content. But the social ethos dictates that, in order to earn the right to share your own, you kind of need to share other’s, too.

I’ve built a nice personal network of folks who rely on me for finding great content by doing just that. I find smart posts on marketing, PR, social media and the like, and I share those links on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The benefit for me is when I do share a link to my own content, a fair number of you click-through on that, too.

Israeli startup Start A Fire has added a new twist to the content-sharing toolset, though. Now you can share other people’s content with a subtle promotion of your own. Confused? Let me explain.

Start A Fire (SAF) allows you to take a URL you wish to share — for the sake of this post, I experimented with Christopher Penn’s recent post about Instagram’s new algorithm — and run it through its URL shortener. The resulting short link can be shared from Start A Fire or through any other social management software. In fact, SAF integrates with Buffer, HubSpot and Oktopost already, and it includes a Chrome extension if you use something else.

That short link (in this case then takes people to the content you meant to share, but it overlays a subtle widget in the lower right corner that acknowledges that you have shared it and also that you’ve recommend these other posts. The other posts are yours that you tell SAF to promote.

So, for the sake of this post and over about a three-hour period, I tried it out. I grabbed the link to Penn’s blog post, ran it through Start A Fire and shared that content on Facebook and Twitter. The resulting page you would see if you clicked on the link was Chris’s post with this little widget in the corner:


I pre-loaded two of my LinkedIn Pulse posts as the content I wished to promote via my SAF shares. So, that’s what came up.

Start A Fire’s version of Penn’s page bugged out his CSS — some of the header colors and whatnot were not intact, so there are some user experience issues for them to work out. But any visitor to the post would see it and be able to read it, and they’d also see my promoted posts.

I’ll leave it to Chris, if he wishes, to explain what happened on his end in terms of page views and traffic attribution, but as a blogger/publisher sharing the content, that shouldn’t be of great concern.

Did it work? Yes.

When I logged back in to SAF a few hours later, I saw this entry around Penn’s link:

When I popped over to LinkedIn, I saw that the promotion drove two page views on a post from January that hasn’t seen action in weeks. (Sure, it was just two, but this was in the first three hours of the link being out there in the first place.)


So, in theory, Start A Fire does in fact cross-promote your own content via your content shares. You can use these links not just in your social content shares but also for links in your email newsletters and more.

If you are going to use it, here are some ideas:

  1. Ensure the third-party content you share is highly relevant in relation to your owned content you’re promoting.
  2. Rotate the owned content you’re promoting frequently, as many people who click on your links are likely the same fans/followers. Otherwise, you’re beating them over the head with your same links.
  3. Test it to see if you see a significant pick-up in traffic or links to both new and old posts. This is a neat way to breathe some life into older posts that are past their peaks.


While I’ve seen similar tools before, Start A Fire seems to have the user experience for your audience (those you share to) figured out. The overlay is small and can easily be dismissed, and yet, it gives you additional content promotion. As with any new tool, the backend analytics could be more robust (I can only see clicks, views and the click-through rate, but I don’t see any details on who, where from, etc.), but my guess is that’s coming.

Start A Fire is free to use, which raises the question of business model and monetization. Still, when you’re talking about people promoting their content, an advertising model is there waiting for them.

Check it out at


Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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